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Jenn Suhr returning to Olympics in pole vault

The 2008 Beijing silver medalist clears 15 feet 1 inch to take first place at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials.

June 25, 2012|By Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
  • Jenn Suhr reacts after a vault in the women's pole vault at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Sunday.
Jenn Suhr reacts after a vault in the women's pole vault at the U.S.… (Charlie Riedel / Associated…)

EUGENE, Ore. — Jenn Suhr's pole vaulting career has taken off since she won the silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but her training situation remains grounded.

Suhr, known as Jenn Stuczynski before she married her coach, Rick Suhr, still trains in a cramped airplane hangar behind her home near Rochester, N.Y. Suhr has come close to hitting the hangar's ceiling in practice several times, but she didn't have to soar quite that high at Hayward Field on Sunday to triumph at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials and win a berth at the London Games.

Suhr passed until the bar was set at 4.55 meters (14 feet 11 inches), so the field would thin. "I thought about what rooms I'd paint when I get home and what color," she said of her long wait.

She missed her first try but made her second attempt and later cleared 4.60 meters (15-1) to top the field. University of Oregon alumna Becky Holliday made her first Olympic team at age 32 by placing second at 14-11. Lacy Janson of Tallahassee, Fla., took third at 4.50 meters (14-9).

"It takes awhile to set in," Suhr said of her second Olympic berth. "I'm just thankful and blessed to have another chance to represent Team USA."

Holliday credited the resources at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., for allowing her to continue her 15-year career despite injuries and frustration.

"I just want to tell USA Track and Field, 'Please don't forget about some of us older athletes,'" she said. "I actually think I'm in my prime….All I can say is, keep older athletes in mind."

Brown Trafton first in discus

Beijing discus gold medalist Stephanie Brown Trafton will get a chance to defend her title after winning the trials competition with a throw of 65.18 meters (213-10). Aretha Thurmond was second at 62.23 (204-2) and Suzy Powell-Roos was third at 60.20 (197-6).

Brown Trafton, who lives in Galt, Calif., near Sacramento, was emotional all day and nearly overcome before her final attempt. "I was tearing up after my first throw," she said, aware that her first effort of 207-8 would probably be good enough to win.

"Just to be able to go from two days ago, not knowing if I'd make the final, to making the Olympic team, it's almost like going into the lion's den and coming out the other side."

Sixth-place finisher Gia Lewis-Smallwood received her third Olympic berth because she previously had met the Olympic standard.

Etc.

Marquise Goodwin, a wide receiver for the University of Texas football team, might be busy when practices start. He made the U.S. Olympic long jump team with a leap of 8.33 meters (27-4). William Claye was second at 8.23 (27-0) and George Kitchens Jr., was third at 8.21 (26-11 1/4). …Reese Hoffa, the 2007 world shotput champion, won the trials title with a toss of 22 meters (72-2 1/4), tops in the world this season. Ryan Whiting was second at 21.66 (71 feet 3/4 inch) and Beijing silver medalist Christian Cantwell was third at 21.28 (69-9 3/4).

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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